Wildlife of KeralaTigers

Kerala Wildlife

Keralaholds fourteen separate reserves set aside for the protection of wildlife, covering a little under five percent of the Kerala’s total surface ares.Most are up in the Western Ghat range, which preserves the highest concentrations of biodiversity anywhere in peninsular India.The majority of the peninsula’s larger mammals keep to the dense woodland of the Western hat mountains, where a cluster of reserves affords them some protection from the hunters and loggers who have wrought such havoc on India’s forest regions over the past few decades.Forests are magical and they have the power to change the perspective of human beings on nature.

The Western Ghats stretch from Gujarat to Tamil Nadu, but they are tallest in Kerala. The highest peak in  the range – a towering 8,841 ft – falls in Idukki.The giant peaks form a barrier that pins the burgeoning monsoon clouds over Kerala for four months, from June through September, forcing the clouds to shed much of their precious water over the wondrously varied land they protect. Thanks to them Kerala boasts some of the few surviving rainforests on Earth, in Wayanad and Palakkad districts.

The rain waters the hills evergreen forests. It feeds the waterfalls that scour the hills from Tholpetty to Thekkady.And it provides for the teeming wildlife and indigenous tribal communities that live among them.

Decades ago, the wealth of the hills was discovered. The forests were felled as man and elephants cleared the trees to make way for plantations that gave the hills new shades of green. Where there was wild forest grew manicured tea bushes, and the rain fed these too.Today,elephants lucky enough to still roan free in the aromatic Cardamom Hills occasionally lunch on the plantation of India’s biggest tea majors.

In the company of the elephant roams the shy Nilgiri tahr, a wild goat that was driven almost to extinction till the Eravikulam National Park threw a protective cloak over their habitat. The tahr still flourishes in Chinnar and Periyar. And in a time when renewed poaching has yet again endangered India’s tiny tiger population; in Periyar they roam free. Protected by the hunters that poached them once.

Idukki, Wayanad and Palaghat, Kerala’s landlocked hill districts and provide a vast playground for nature and animal lovers. The traveler can roam through hill stations wrapped in cloud, thick forests, wildlife reserves, trekking trails, waterfalls and plantations. If Idukki is famous for tea, the Wayanad hills are famous for their coffee. So rich is the monsoon’s bounty in these parts that the world’s second highest rainfall was recorded at Lakkidi in lower Wayanad, next only to Cherrapunji in India’s North East. In the hills of Wayanad, the giant shadows of two great warriors, both of whom held out against British might, loom large.Tipu Sultan harried the British from Palakkad to Ponmudi.The Pazhassi Raja – lion of Wayanad – troubled the British with guerilla raids from his hideouts in the Wayanad hills. The site of Tipu’s Battery, a short distance from the cave in which the Pazhassi Raja hid, is today the base for a trek among wildlife and waterfalls.

Trekking in Kerala

A fort built by Tipu’s father guards the largest mountain pass in the world, a pass that splits the Western Ghats between the forests of Silent Valley National Park, and by the tiger – haunted slopes of Parambikulam.Rice planted in this gap paints Palakkad in shades of emerald, whose temples and mosques break out in a famous series of post harvest celebrations.

Bird Sanctuaries

Birds have always evoked the curiosity of man. Maybe the wish to fly is prime reason. The beauty, the way in which they make its nest, its ability to sense even the subtle changes in the nature and the nature of migration and their mating – all associated with birds are keenly watched by man. Bird sanctuaries are major attraction of tourists. The hilly slopes of the Western Ghats that run across Kerala are famous for the sense forests wildlife, plant life and avian species. Of late the world is increasingly becoming aware of the richness of the avian life in these dense forests of Kerala. A land gifted by nature in its abundance, Kerala is bird lovers’ delight. It is home to migratory and courting avian. The bird sanctuaries that play host to the migratory birds are dense with forests of dense deciduous teak and tall grasses including the bamboo. The aerial population thus finds the environment very suitable and comforting. Truly the tiny state of Kerala is blessed with spectacular sanctuaries including bird sanctuaries.

Kadalundi Bird SanctuaryKadalundi Bird Sanctuary: (25 km from Kozhikode) and 7 km from Beypore Port) The sanctuary is spread over a cluster of islands in a scenic area surrounded by hillocks where the Kadalundi River flows into the Arabian Sea.A hillock which I s200 meters above sea level provides a splendid view of the river mouth and the sea. The estuary at Kadalundi is a heaven for migratory birds.

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary : (16 km from Kottayam) An ornithologist’s paradise ,Kumarakom bird sanctuary on the banks of the Vembanad Lake is a favorite haunt of migratory birds. A cruise through the Vembanadu Lake is the best way to experience the sanctuary.

Pakshipathalam : (10 km from Thirunelly in Wayanad) Situated 1740 meters above sea level,Pakshipathalam can be accessed only by trekking. Rare species of birds can be sighted from the watch tower of this bird sanctuary. Special permission should be obtained from DFO,North Wayanad to enter this area.

Thattekkadu Bird Sanctuary : (20 km from Kothamangalam in Ernakulam) Nestled amidst evergreen forests, this rare bird sanctuary was discovered by the renowned ornithologist of India ,Dr.Salim Ali at Kochi – Munnar route and is named after him. Diverse migrant species home in here during season.

Wildlife, National Parks and Zoos

Kerala has a total forest cover of 11,125.59 Sq.Km which I s 28.90% of the land area of the state. Much of the forest cover of Kerala is spread over the Western Ghats, which is one of the 18 biodiversity hot spots of the world considered to be the repository of endangered flora and fauna. There are 28 vegetation types in Kerala, 50% of the forest cover is in the southern part and 49% in the northern and central region. Almost all districts (with the exception of Alappuzha) have very good forest cover. Wildlife sanctuaries are mainly intended to ensure natural conditions necessary to protect nationally significant species, biotic communities’ or physical features of the environment where these require specific human manipulation for their perpetuation. Each sanctuary has separate management plan and the extent of the sanctuary has been divided into zones with specific management prescriptions.Natioanl Parks are large natural or near natural areas set aside to protect large scale ecological precesses,along with eh complement f species and ecosystems characteristic of the area.

Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary : (35 km from Thalassery in Kannur) At this 55 sq km sanctuary many things like nature walk, soft trekking, bamboo rafting, coracle boating, stay at tree house are possible. Covered with tropical and semi tropical evergreen forest, the Aralam Sanctuary is home to a vast variety of flora and fauna endemic to the Western Ghats.Elephants,gaur,sambar,spotted deer, barking deer,Nilgiri langur,Hanuman Langur,Malabar giant squirrel ,etc can be seen here. Permission: 0490 2413160.

Chimmini Wildlife Sanctuary : (37 km from Thrissur) This wildlife sanctuary is the abode of flora and fauna.Threeking is also added attraction here. It proffers great experience to nature partisans. Permission: 0480 3209234.

Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary : (60 km from Munnar) The Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, spread across 90,44 sq km is situated on the Tamil Nadu border. It is the board of most of the South Indian animals and birds. A unique thorny scrub forest with xerophytes species, Chinnar is the habitat for the endangered Giant Grizzled Squirrel of India. Their total number there would be less than 200.Located in the rain shadow area of the Western Ghats, unlike other sanctuaries in Kerala, Chinnar gets only less than two months of rain every year. Rich in wildlife, the mixed deciduous forests there are ideal for trekking. An extensive Sandalwood forest nearby is an added attraction at Chinnar. Visiting time: 0700 + 1800 hours. Permission : 04865 231587.

Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary : (555 km from Thodupuzha in Idukki) This sanctuary extends over the Thodupuzha and Udumpanchola taluks spreading over to 77 sq .km and is 450 – 748 meters above Sea level.Elephats,bison,sambar deer, wild dogs, jungle cats,tiger,wild boar etc. are seen apart from various species of snakes including cobrea,viper,kraits and numerous non-poisonous ones. Birds include grey jungle fowl, Malabar grey hornbill, several species of woodpeckers, bulbuls, flycatchers, etc.The wildlife here is similar to that of Thekkad.This sanctuary lies adjacent to the world renowned Idukki Arch Dam. Permission : 04862 232271.

Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary : (30 km from Thiruvananthapuram) The 12,000 hectares of nature vegetation is spread across a riffling piece of land.Agasthykoodam peak,1868 meters above sea level, is its highest peak and the sanctuary is also an ideal place for trekking. Permission: 0471 2360762.

Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary : (110 km from Palakkad) Sprawled across 285 sq.km,the Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary is home to rare wild animals. The challenging hill ranges here are placed at an altitude of 300 to 1438 m above sea level and the place offers a good climate with temperatures ranging from 15 degree Celsius to 32 degree Celsius. Boating/cruising facilities are available at the Parambikulam Reservoirs. The oldest teak tree, Kannimari s found here. Permission: 0491 2556393.

Peechi – Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary : (20 km east of Thrissur) This is one of Kerala’s oldest wildlife reserve, established in 1958.The sanctuary spread around Peechi and Vazhani reservoirs. Permission: 0487 2699017.

Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary : (50 km from Thiruvananthapuram) Peppara is famous for its eucalyptus plantations. This attractive sanctuary is on the way to Ponmudi, spread over 53 km on the Western Ghats. Permission: 0471 2360762.

Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary : This rich jungle of Thekkady lying close to the plantations is one of the world’s most precious and captivating natural wildlife reserves spread across to 777 sq.km of which 360 sq .km is thick evergreen forest. This sanctuary was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978.This is the only sanctuary in India where one can have the experience of beholding wildlife at close quarters from the safety of a boat on the lake. Permission: 04869 222027.

Shenduruney Wildlife Sanctuary : (66 km from Kollam) This wildlife sanctuary is rich with biodiversity lying on either side of Shenduruney River. The Shenduruney forest – declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1987 get its name from an endemic species of tree call Chenkurunji (Gluta travancorica).In the central region of this moist, mixed deciduous forest, spread over hilly terrain of over 100 sq.km ,is the 26 sq.km artificial lake formed by the Parappara dam built across the Shenduruney and Kulathupuzha rivers. Permission: 0475 2344600.

Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary : (Muthanga:18 km west of Sulthan Batheri.Tholpetty:15 km from Mananthavadi) The sanctuary covers an area of 344.33 sq.km and divided into two Muthanga in the south and Tholpetty in the north. Established area network of Nagarhole and Bandipur of Karnataka on the northeast and Mudumali of Tamil Nadu on the South east. Permission: Muthanga – 04936 271010, Tholpetty – 04935 250853.

National Parks

Eravikulam National Park  (15 lm from Munnar) The 97 sq km park is situated in the Devikulam Taluk and is home to the Nilgiri tahr.The highest peak in South India,Anamalai (2695 meters above sea level) ,is located in the southern region of the park . Permission: 04865 231587.

Silent Valley National Park  : (40 km North – West of Mannarkad in Palakkad) The 89.52 sq.km.national park is believed to be the sole surviving bit of evergreen forests in Sahya Ranges. The peculiarity of Silent Valley Forest is that it is devoid even of the chirping of cicadas. Vehicular transport is possible only up to Mukkali, nearly 24 km from the park. The rest of the way has to be covered on foot up to the source of Kunthipuzha which flows through the valley before merging into Rive Bharathapuzha. Permission: 04924 222056,253225.

Zoo

Thiruvananthapuram : It is a small jungle in the heart of the city and a beautiful garden with smiling flowers.Thiruvananthapuram Zoo, one of the oldest in the country, was established as an annexe to the Museum in 1857 by the erstwhile Maharaja of Travancore in order to attract more visitors. Spread over in 55 acres of land located in the heart of the temple city of Thiruvananthapuram,it has 75 different species of animals. It also has several species of animals and birds from the Ethiopian and Australian Zoo geographic region.

Thrissur : Started in 1885,spread over in 5.5 hectors of land in Thrissur town. There are Zoological Garden, Botanical Garden, Art Museum and Natural History Museum in this compound. The Zoo has 315 animals in 46 species. Art Museum consists of antiques and other unique exhibits. Natural History Museum displays array of specimens of different kinds of animals.

Given the following list rounds up the best of the region’s reserves and parks; all receives full coverage in the Guide section of the web.

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